COVID-19 – Staff Wellbeing
This is an unpredictable situation for all, with the majority of staff working from home, maybe having to self-isolate, worrying about vulnerable family members, or trying to keep children entertained and busy, all while trying to live as normal as possible under these stressful conditions.
Strategic Marketing and Communications, have produced a helpful document setting out Staff Health and Wellbeing Guidance in relation to COVID-19.
During this time, it is even more important to look after both your mental and physical health, and we hope the following will provide some additional support to the content that is already on our wellbeing pages.
5 Steps to Wellbeing
Professor Gerry Gormley balances his time between being a GP in Carryduff and carrying out his role as Clinical Professor in Simulation and Clinical skills within the Centre for Medical Education at Queen’s. He works closely with the Staff Wellbeing team, providing lunch and learn wellbeing sessions to staff, and has kindly recorded this video on 5 Key Steps to Wellbeing.
Other Useful Links include:
Action Mental Health has developed the below toolkit, to help staff working from home, covering the 5 Steps to Wellbeing.
Working from Home
As many staff adjust and acclimatise, you may be finding that the day to day reality of working from home can be very challenging.
The challenges will come for many different personal reasons, for example being on our own at home during the day or trying to balance caring responsibilities. Each case will be unique and often difficult, and we know not all days will be the same.
Working from home has as much to do with the work you have planned to complete as well as your mental approach and attitude to the situation. Here’s some tips to maintain your wellbeing and please feel free to share your own tips StaffWellbeing@QUB #wfh.
Try to start and end the day with a routine. Get dressed, go for a walk, prioritise your jobs, get the coffee on! Use the time that you’re normally commuting for doing an online yoga class, getting out for a walk or calling a friend/family member for a catch up.
When working from home, you're your own personal manager. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out. To stay productive, set goals for what you'll do and when over the course of the day/week.
We understand that balancing your caring responsibilities with working from home is going to be challenging. We know that you may not be able to commit to carrying out a full or 'normal' day of work in these circumstances. If you’re struggling, contact your line manager and let them know about the challenges you are experiencing so that the University can best support you.
Get some Vitamin D and fresh air
We’re spending a lot of time indoors at the moment, so open the windows to let in as much natural daylight and fresh air as possible. If possible, get outside and take a walk or go for a run - just make sure to wash your hands as soon as you return home.
It’s important to talk and remain connected to colleagues, and if we can’t be in the same room, then use technology, such as Microsoft Teams, to keep in touch. Use video calls where you can instead of phone calls, as it’s easier to gauge how someone is when you can see them.
Open your shades when the sun comes up, or step outside. Bringing sunlight into your home will help balance your circadian rhythm for better sleep and energy management. And stepping outside for even just a quick breath of fresh air will make you feel more alive and less isolated.
Think about food prep for the week and maybe batch cook on Sunday. Try and have healthy snacks in the cupboards, otherwise you’ll eat all the chocolate.
Regular breaks and exercise
It's good to have a routine when you're working from home, but work shouldn't become monotonous and you shouldn't stay glued to your screen all day. It's important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would normally.
Every 25 minutes try to get up and stretch, breathe, go outside, go up and down the stairs – anything to move your body! Working out at home can offer some advantages such as convenience and privacy. You can download a yoga app for example or visit a website that offers workouts that are customised and require little or no equipment.
Ask for help
It may be the first time you’ve had to work from home, and new technology can be daunting, so reach out to a colleague and ask for some help.
Working on Campus
If you’ve been identified as critical staff and are still working on campus, with the environment around you having changed, you may be feeling unsettled or anxious. Under these circumstances, that’s perfectly normal but remember that there is support in place if you need it.
Take your breaks – Your day-to-day routine may have changed, and colleagues you would normally meet for a coffee or lunch may be working from home, but it’s still important for you to take your breaks, probably even more so.
Caring responsibilities – You may have family members relying on your support or need to find alternative childcare arrangements now that schools, etc have closed. It’s important to talk to your line manager and let them know about the challenges you are experiencing so that the University can best support you.
Virtual wellbeing events – From physical to metal wellbeing, check out what’s available via our Wellbeing Event Calendar.
Inspire, our Employee Assistance Programme provider, are available for you to access 24/7 and are free of charge. They can provide advice and guidance on a wide range of worries/issues that you may be dealing with, for example, family issues, health concerns or financial worries. You can call them on 0800 389 5362.
Talking to your Children
As a parent, we know you’ll be concerned about how your children are coping during this difficult time. One of our wellbeing partners, Parenting NI, have published a really informative blog to help you help your child cope with any stress they may have. Please click here to read the blog.
Parenting NI will also be sharing regular videos and as much information as possible over the coming weeks on their social media. You can find them at the links the below:
For those colleagues who have caring responsibilities, either in the home or locally, you will naturally be following all relevant advice from government, health and specialist organisations. Balancing your caring responsibilities may be even more challenging at this time, if you’re struggling, contact your line manager and let them know about the challenges you are experiencing so that the University can best support you.
If you Don't Feel Safe at Home
Guidance and support is available if you feel unsafe at home:
- GOV.UK - Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for victims of domestic abuse
Local help is also available through the following support services:
- PSNI - call ‘101’ for a non-emergency or ‘999’ in an emergency (Silent Solutions Service is also available, which enables a 999 caller who is too scared to make a noise, or speak, to press 55 when prompted).
- The 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Abuse Helpline: 0808 802 1414 (open to all women & men affected by domestic & sexual violence)
- The Rainbow Project
- Women’s Aid Federation NI
- Men's Advisory Project
- The Rowan CentreVictim Support NI
Inspire, our Employee Assistance Programme provider, are available for you to access 24/7 and are free of charge. They can provide advice and guidance on a wide range of worries/issues that you may be dealing with, for example, this could be family issues, health concerns or even financial worries. You can call them on 0800 389 5362.
You can also check out their online platform, which provides a wealth of online wellbeing resources. Please click here for more information.
Action Mental Health has developed the below toolkits, to help staff working from home covering, Steps to relieve pressure and regain control and How to reduce stress when working from home.
Queen’s PEC has kindly provided the following HIIT workout, which doesn’t require any equipment and can be performed at home:
HIIT (Full Body)
Goal: Muscular Endurance, Suitable for All levels
- Raise (Heart Rate)
a. Starjumps (30 secs), Jog on the spot (30 secs) – repeat twice
b. Shadow boxing (30 secs)
a. 10 squats, 10 lunges, 5 bear crawl, 10 press ups (toes or knees) - repeat twice
a. Arm Circles Ankle rotations, Straight/bent knee swings (5 each side)
a. Jump Squat x 5 (if comfortable)
Work 30 sec, rest 15 sec (repeat 3-4 times)
- Press ups (narrow, wide, neutral)
- Russian Twist
- Alternate Lunge
- Bear Crawl (Can replace with Burpees)
- Mountain Climbers (Can replace with Dips)
- Plank (Can replace with Side Plank)
- Lower Ab Crunch
- 90 sec light jogging
- 5-10mins static stretching
Over the coming weeks, Queen's Sport in partnership with our colleagues across the Healthy Campus Framework in Staff Wellbeing will be offering you the chance to 'Keep Active' with regular fitness activities, mental and wellbeing advice, sports blogs articles plus much more.
You can engage with 'Live Classes' or catch up with all content by subscribing to the Queen's Sport YouTube Channel.
Keep an eye on our Wellbeing Event Calendar for more information.
Prepare and plan your week with the Queen's Sport weekly online programme.
- Raise (Heart Rate)
We are working with our partners to provide digital lunch and learn sessions, we’ll keep you posted via Staff Comms on dates and times, our Wellbeing Event Calendar will also be kept up-to-date with this information.
The Staff Choir are continuing to meet remotely via Zoom, check out our Wellbeing Event Calendar for sign-in details. This is a great opportunity to have a go, and have some fun, singing in your own home.
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for your health and wellbeing, yet sleep is often not given the priority it deserves. Around a third of the adult population have experienced insomnia. Professor Gerry Gormley, a Clinical Professor in the Centre for Medical Education has developed and delivered a number of lunchtime workshop, to staff that explores why this happens – but more importantly, providing practical steps on how to improve your sleep. Gerry has kindly recorded this video on Managing your Sleep:
Also, please find some guidance from the NHS on How to get to sleep.
Additional Information and Resources
- Public Health Authority: COVID-19: guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing
Home Schooling Resources